Tag: Marin Cilic

ATP Tour wrap: Struff eyes off maiden title in home nation

GERMAN Jan-Lennard Struff will eye off his maiden ATP Tour title after downing Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka to reach the final of the BMW Open in Munich. The 87-minute victory came after Ivashka had disposed of his top ranked compatriot Alexander Zverev in the quarter finals, with Struff doing it a lot easier, 6-4 6-1 in 87 minutes of action.

The seventh seed’s win mean the home nation hero was finally able to break through to an ATP Tour final after previously reaching the semi-final stage of an ATP Tour tournament on seven occasions. Having been broken early and trailing 3-0, Struff looked in a bit of trouble until he won 12 of the next 13 games in a one-sided result much to the pleasure of the German crowd.

“I am happy to have reached my first final on home soil in Germany and I will try my best tomorrow,” Struff said post-match.

The German will now face fellow unseeded talent Nikoloz Basilashvili who has been there and done it before, collecting four ATP Tour titles, the most recent of which occurred in Doha earlier this year. Much like Struff the Georgian also came from a slight deficit – albeit only the opening game in this case – to string together the next nine matches to win the first set 6-1 and lead 3-0 against second seed Casper Ruud. Basilashvili eventually won the second set 6-2 with three of the last four games, to upset the highly ranked Norwegian and roll into the decider.

“I am feeling good and I am feeling fresh,” Basilashvili said post-match. “I am looking forward to the final. “I feel confident here and the court suits me, so it will be an interesting match tomorrow as we played recently in Italy.”

The interesting factor will be Basilashvili’s extra workload during the day after the Georgian defeated Slovenian lucky loser Norbert Gombos 6-4 6-4, and Ruud had taken down Australian eighth seed John Millman in the other quarter final 6-3 6-4, before having to head out on court for the semi-final last night.

Meanwhile in the other ATP 250 event, unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie booked his unlikely spot in the Estoril Open final in Portugal. Norrie overcame sixth seed Marin Cilic to make his way into the decider following two tight sets 7-6 7-5, and will take on seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in today’s final after the Spaniard took care of compatriot, eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the other semi-final, 6-1 6-4.

“I was really tough. I started a little bit slow and managed to ease my way into the match. [I] played really good when break point down and went after it,” Norrie said post-match. “[Marin] was serving great and it was really tricky to get his first serve back… I am fortunate to get through and I am just happy to be in my second final.”

Norrie is having some sort of season, having claimed 18 ATP Tour victories this season, ranked equal third overall with Italian Jannik Sinner, behind Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, and red-hot Russian Andrey Rublev (26). Going into outright third might be a challenge in this match though, as the Brit looks to overcome a 2-0 head-to-head advantage that Ramos-Vinolas has in their clashes thus far.

BMW OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [2] Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-1 6-2
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4 6-1

BMW OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [8] John Millman (AUS) 6-3 6-4
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [LL] Norbert Gombos (SLO) 6-4 6-4

ESTORIL OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [6] Marin Cilic (CRO) 7-6 7-5
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-1 6-4

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Seeds all advance in Munich and Estoril

IT was a largely predictable day in the ATP 250 events across Europe as all six seeds out on court in Munich and Estoril advanced through to the quarter finals after the Round of 16 matches got underway. The only Top 10 talent in action was top seed Alexander Zverev, with the BMW Open favourites dominating 6-2 6-4 against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis to book his spot in the final eight. The match lasted one hour and 27 minutes before the German advanced, putting up six aces and winning 73 per cent of his first serve points.

“I haven’t played much tennis the past few weeks, so I know I’ll need to improve for the next match,” Zverev said post-match. “I’ve had success in the past and I feel good here. I’ve played well in the practice and hopefully I can do better on the match court.”

Zverev will be difficult to beat at home on the clay, though second seed Casper Ruud would be in with a shot, cruising through his first match in the tournament by taking care of Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, 6-3 6-2. Ruud was tough to beat on serve, only dropping nine points – including only two on his second serve – whilst not facing a break point and breaking the Uruguayan three times.

In other results, John Millman knocked off Guido Pella following the Argentinian’s retirement early in the second set. Despite being a set up, Pella dropped the first two games of the second set and was forced to retire in the 75th minute of the match. Meanwhile, Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka knocked off fellow qualifier, United States’ Mackenzie McDonald in three sets, 6-7 6-1 6-2, cruising home to book his spot in the next round against Zverev.

Over in Portugal, it was a good day for the seeds there too, albeit with a few more complications. With the exception of eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina‘s whitewash of Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-1 6-2, the other two seeds needed three sets to overcome their opponents. Third seed Ugo Humbert got up in a tight struggle over Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4 3-6 6-3, while sixth seed Marin Cilic dropped the first set in a tiebreaker to home nation qualifier, Nuno Borges before coming back to win, 6-7 6-4 6-4. In the other match, South African Kevin Anderson took care of Spanish lucky loser Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 6-3 7-6.

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [LL] Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-2 6-4
[2] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-2
[8] John Millman (AUS) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 4-6 2-0
[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-7 6-1 6-2

ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Nuno Borges (POR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
[8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-1 6-2
Kevin Anderson (RSA) [LL] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 7-6

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Hometown heroes take out trophies as Monte Carlo gets underway

THE home crowds rallied at the Sardegna and Marbella ATP 250 final events on Sunday, with an Italian and a Spaniard taking out the respective trophies following impressive three-set victories. Meanwhile, the Monte Carlo Masters event has begun in Monaco, with just two main draw encounters opening proceedings as the qualifiers were completed.

At Sardegna, it was third seed Italian Lorenzo Sonego who claimed the title with a 2-6 7-6 6-4 victory over Serbian Laslo Djere. The huge three hour encounter was fitting for a final, as the Serbian claimed the first set with relative ease before being forced into a second set tiebreaker wherein Sonego took the chocolates.

Sonego capitalised off Djere’s unforced error count and eight double faults to clinch victory, despite lacking intensity on serve. He was marginally more efficient on serve winning 70 per cent of first serve points off a 68 per cent clip, compared to Djere’s 71 per cent off a 57 per cent clip.

Sonego’s victory at Sardegna marks the first time an Italian has won an ATP Tour title on home soil in 15 years, with this title his second in as many days after clinching the doubles title alongside Andrea Vavassori a day prior.

“The match was long and I remained calm in the second-set tie-break,” Sonego said. “I knew the match wasn’t finished because I had always kept fighting. It’s wonderful to win the title with all my team here. Now, I am really tired, but I am very happy. I am happy to follow in [Filippo] Volandri’s footsteps and win a title on home soil.”

SARDEGNA OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 2-6 7-6 6-4

 

At Marbella, Pablo Carreno Busta reigned supreme in an all-Spanish final, defeating Jaume Munar 6-1 2-6 6-4 to claim the AnyTech365 Andalucia title. While Munar served up six aces to Carreno Busta’s zero, the top seed Spaniard was much more efficient on serve, with his 78 per cent clip paying off while a clean and consistent first and second effort was evident.

This win marked Carreno Busta’s 200th tour-level victory in excellent circumstances on home soil, winning his first Spanish title in two hour and 21 minutes.

“I suffered like yesterday trying to continue fighting all the time… I needed to do it if I wanted to win this kind of match,” Carreno Busta said. “It’s a pleasure to win a title here in Spain, in Marbella. For me, it’s very special. It’s my fifth title, so I’m very, very happy for the victory.”

“I started really good, really focused, being very aggressive,” Carreno Busta said. “After that I missed a little bit and Jaume started to play better and at the end.”

ANYTECH365 ANDALUCIA OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[1] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-1 2-6 6-4

 

Meanwhile, the Monte Carlo Masters ATP 1000 event has begun in Monaco, with just two matches played on the opening day as the qualifying rounds were complete. David Goffin and Jordan Thompson were the two winners of the day, both overcoming second set comebacks to claim respective victories in three sets.

Goffin was the cleaner player in his 6-4 3-6 6-0 victory over Marin Cilic to get the tournament started, claiming the early ascendancy before easing off in the second and blowing the Croatian away in the third set. The 11th seed Belgian was less efficient on serve but marginally more effective and consistent, hitting six aces for three double faults off a 47 per cent clip (34/73), compared to Cilic’s 10 and 10 off a 51 per cent clip (55/108).

Thompson would not be given an easy time by the higher ranked Frenchman in Benoit Paire, forced to fight for every inch of his 6-4 6-7 7-6, three hour and three minute victory. Despite dropping the second set tiebreaker 7-6(3), Thompson came out with a vengeance in the third and forced continuous errors on serve for the Frenchman, who served up 18 double faults for just eight aces. The Australian made the most of his service games against the hard-hitter, and both claimed and saved nine break points on his way to victory.

The qualifying rounds are done and dusted, seeing top seed German Dominik Koepfer, second seed Italian Stefano Travaglia, eighth seed Australian Alexei Popyrin and ninth seed Argentinian Federico Delbonis gain entry into the Monte Carlo main draw, joined by a trio of Italians.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Marin CIlic (CRO) 6-4 3-6 6-0
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-4 6-7 7-6

ATP Miami Open 1000: Korda continues run with Schwartzman upset

SEBASTIAN Korda will have the hopes of a nation on his shoulders after being the sole United States representative through to the 2021 Miami Open ATP 1000 quarter finals from a brutal day of Round of 16 action. Korda had a fantastic win over fifth seed Diego Schwartzman, 6-3 4-6 7-5 in two hours and 35 minutes to book his spot in the final eight.

He served eight aces to one, and capitalised with 73 per cent of his first serve points to Schwartzman’s 57 per cent, and served at a higher clip (62 to 56 per cent). The American broke four times from 11 chances, whilst his opponent won three games off Korda’s serve from eight opportunities.

Korda was the sole American left standing in the final eight, following losses to three of his compatriots. Top ranked United States competitor, John Isner lost out to seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut in three sets, going down 6-3 4-6 7-6. He joined Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz on the sidelines after Round of 16 losses. Top seed Daniil Medvedev won through against Tiafoe in straight sets 6-4 6-3, while Alexander Bublik triumphed in a come-from-behind victory over 22nd seed Fritz, 6-7 6-3 6-4.

“It was definitely a tough match,” Medvedev said of reaching his maiden Miami Open quarter final. “[There were] a lot of great points, some of them he won, some of them I won… The serve helped me a lot today, especially in the second set.”

It was a great day for up-and-coming ATP Tour players, with Jannik Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz both winning their respective matches. Italian teenager Sinner won through to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter final following a 6-3 6-2 win over Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori, while Hurkacz toppled 12th seed Milos Raonic in a come-from-behind upset win 4-6 6-3 7-6.

Sinner will now take on Bublik in a tantalising semi-final, which the Kazakh 32nd seed said he was ready for despite the Italian’s obvious talent.

“[Sinner] is so young,” Bublik said. “He is an unbelievable athlete and he runs forever… He is an unbelievable player and sharing a quarter-final with him is a pleasure for me. I hope to have a great match.”

In the two matches yet to be completed, two top four seeds were out on court, with second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas taking on Italian Lorenzo Sonego, while fourth seed Andrey Rublev was engaged in a battle with unseeded Croatian Marin Cilic.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-4 6-3
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) Marin Cilic (CRO)
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 4-6 7-5
[7] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [18] John Isner (USA) 6-3 4-6 7-6
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [12] Milos Raonic (CAN) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[21] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-3 6-2
[32] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [22] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-7 6-3 6-4

 

Picture credit: Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports

ATP Miami Open 1000: Korda dominates on home soil as Hurkacz upsets Shapovalov

IN a day that largely went the way of the higher ranked player in each Miami Open ATP 1000 contest, the fourth round of the tournament was decided following eight singles matches played out overnight. Unlike the day before where all bar two matches were three-setters, this day was a little different with many of the matches racing through quickly and all bar one being over in straight sets results.

The biggest upset was arguably American Sebastian Korda who took out the red-hot Aslan Karatsev, with the Russian now-17th seed no match for the home nation hero. Korda won 6-3 6-0 in a one-sided affair to advance to the last 16 to be one of only two unseeded players in that half of the draw. The other is Croatian Marin Cilic, with the veteran toppling Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.

“[It was] my third match in a row on the same court and I just got used to the conditions,” Cilic said post-match. “I felt quite good on the ball today and I returned well. I felt that I put a lot of returns back in comparison to the first two matches. It was a very good performance and definitely something motivating for the next matches.”

Polish up-and-comer Hubert Hurkacz defied his 26th seeding with a tight straight sets win over sixth seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov. Hurkacz won 6-3 7-6 to hold off the fellow youngster, winning 8-6 in a nail-biting second set tiebreaker. It was better news for Shapovalov’s compatriot Milos Raonic, who toppled 20th seed Ugo Humbert 6-4 7-5 to advance to the Round of 16. Humbert was one of two Frenchman to depart on the day, with 25th seed Adrian Mannarino bowing out to fifth seed Argentinian Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-4.

On the Grandstand court, fourth seed Andrey Rublev defeated 29th seed Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-2 6-1 to continue his ripping form, defeating his opponent for the third time in the past month. Last time they played, Fucsovics famously said he would be glad if he “never had to play him again”, and unfortunately for the Hungarian, the tournament draw was not kind to him.

“I was laughing, because of [the] situation and plus Marton also told me, ‘I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to see you,'” Rublev said post-match. “[It was] just a situation that [was] fun, and I feel sorry.”

In the latest match, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Kei Nishikori engaged in the best battle of the day, as the Greek won the first set, before the former Top 5 Japanese talent took out the second set. It took a full three sets for Tsitsipas to finally shake off Nishikori, breaking him twice in the deciding set to cruise to a win in just under two hours, 6-3 3-6 6-1.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [28] Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-3 3-6 6-1
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [29] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-2 6-1
[5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated [25] Adrian Mannarino (GFRA) 6-1 6-4
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [6] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-3 7-6
[12] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated [20] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-4 7-5
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [17] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 6-0
[24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 7-6 6-3
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-3 6-4

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Miami Open 1000: Tsitsipas and Nishikori set for third round blockbuster

WORLD number five Stefanos Tsitsipas and former world number four Kei Nishikori have collected important wins at the Miami Open this morning to set up a blockbuster third round clash between the pair for Tuesday. Tsitsipas breezed past Damir Dzumhur 6-1 6-4 and became just the third ATP player to claim 15 victories in the 2021 season so far. Meanwhile, Nishikori had it much tougher against Aljaz Bedene, winning 7-6 5-7 6-4 in two hours and 50 minutes. The Japanese star won 73 per cent of points on first serve and won 67 per cent of points on Bedene’s second serve. Bedene has had a tough fortnight against Nishikori, as he was also defeated by the 2014 US Open finalist at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships last week.

Tsitsipas was happy with his performance, particularly given that he had lost three of his four previous clashes against Dzumhur. “It was a great match, especially against a guy that I probably don’t have a good record playing against in the past,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I started the match very strong, breaking him twice and taking a big lead in the score, and I think the things worked out by themselves after that.”

Tsitsipas will attempt to defeat Nishikori for the first time in the third round, as Nishikori was victorious in their one previous matchup (in 2018) 6-3 6-3. With this in mind, Tsitsipas knows that he has his work cut out for him. “[Kei is] a player that has played very well in the past, and even now he can raise his level really high,” Tsitsipas said. “I’ll try and be ready for the battle… It’s important for me to have matches against strong opponents like him. I am very pumped for the match and I’m going to try and put my best performance out there. I’m going to try and take it game by game… It’s a strong third round, I won’t hide it. It’s important for me to be ready for that match and be physically prepared.”

In other results, Australians Alex de Minaur, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson bowed out in their respective matches, and tenth seed Fabio Fognini was shocked by American Sebastian Korda 1-6 6-4 6-2. Former US Open champion Marin Cilic was a big winner, as he saved 11 break points in his 3-6 7-5 7-6 defeat of 13th seed Cristian Garin. Consistent performers Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic all cruised through their matches in straight sets.

ATP MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-1 6-4
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-1 6-2
[5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-3 6-3
[6] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [10] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 1-6 6-4 6-2
[12] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-2 6-1
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [13] Cristian Garin (CHI) 3-6 7-5 7-6
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated [15] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[17] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAS) 6-4 6-3
[20] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-1 6-4
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [23] Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-3
[24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [Q] Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 6-4 7-6
[25] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Denis Kudla (USA) 7-6 6-4
[28] Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-6 5-7 6-4
[29] Marton Fucsovics defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 7-6 6-7 6-4

Picture credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour

ATP Miami Open 1000: Ivashka wins in three tiebreakers, as Aussies advance

TWO retirements, three tiebreak sets over more than three hours, and a couple of Australians back on the winners list, there was plenty to talk about at the 2021 ATP Miami Open on Thursday.

The epic three-set, three-tiebreaker match went down to the wire over three hours and 18 minutes, before Belarusian Ilya Ivashka got up over South Korean Soonwoo Kwon, 7-6 6-7 7-6. The first two tiebreakers were 7-4 in favour of the opposite opponents before Ivashka got up 7-3 in the deciding tiebreaker. He served 20 aces and won 71 per cent of his first serve points off a 72 per cent efficiency, breaking his opponent four times, while Kwon won 74 per cent of his first serves of a 55 per cent clip, breaking four times from 11 chances himself.

Elsewhere it was a great start for Australian duo, Jordan Thompson and Thanasi Kokkinakis. Thompson overcame Argentinian Federico Delbonis in two tight sets 7-6 6-4, while qualifier Kokkinakis won on his return to the court in Miami with a 6-3 6-3 victory over fellow qualifier, Japan’s Shintaro Mochizuki. A 17-year-old talent, Mochizuki is a former junior world number one who claimed the 2019 Wimbledon junior title and is currently ranked 630th in the world.

There were plenty of home nation talents out on the court, with a number of them getting up in victories. United States representatives Bjorn Fratangelo, Sebastian Korda, Denis Kudla and Tennys Sandgren all won through to the next round of the tournament. Qualifier Frantangelo defeated Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, while Korda inflicted the same defeat on Romanian Radu Albot, Kudla knocked off Jeremy Chardy in a tight three-set battle, while Sandgren only needed 12 games before Spaniard Pedro Martinez retired, leading 6-4 2-0. Michael Mmoh was the only American to lose out on the day, going down 6-4 6-4 to Italian young gun Lorenzo Musetti, 6-4 6-4.

In other straight sets results, lucky loser Damir Dzumhur toppled veteran South African Kevin Anderson in a close one 7-6 7-6, while Yasutaka Uchiyama and Daniel Elahi Galan both won in two sets against Salvatore Caruso and Thiago Seyboth Wild respectively. Croatian Marin Cilic had a tougher assignment against Federico Coria getting up 6-3 2-6 6-4, while Miomir Kecmanovic also needed three sets to topple British qualifier Liam Broady.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[Q] Bjorn Frantangelo (USA) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-4 6-4
Sebastian Korda (USA) defated Radu Albot (ROU) 6-3 6-0
[Q] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) defeated [Q] Shintaro Mochizuki (JPN) 6-3 6-3
Denis Kudla (USA) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 3-6 6-3 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-3 2-6 6-4
[LL] Damir Dzumhur (BIH) defeated [PR] Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-6 7-5
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) defeated [WC] Jack Draper (GBR) 7-5 0-0 RET
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 7-6 6-4
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Liam Broady (GBR) 7-5 6-7 6-1
Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-4 2-0 RET
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 7-6 6-7 7-6
Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated [Q] Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 6-3 6-4
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-4 6-4
Christopher O’Connell (AUS) vs. Joao Sousa (POR)
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) vs. [Q] Thomas Fabbiano (ITA)

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Harris stuns Thiem in Dubai

THERE was plenty to unpack in the ATP Tour over the past 24 hours with some massive upsets in Dubai, and the Abierto Mexicano kicked off in Acapulco.

In Dubai, Lloyd Harris has caused the upset of the day with a straight sets win over top seed Dominic Thiem. The US Open reigning champion automatically booked his spot in the Round of 32 due to his seeding, but lasted just 72 minutes on court as the South African server won 6-3 6-4. Harris broke twice without facing a break point, and only lost one point on his first serve to be near-impenetrable off his racket. Thiem still won 81 per cent of his first serve points, but only served at 51 per cent efficiency in a disappointing performance from the Austrian.

“I’m super, super happy with that win. [He is] by far the highest-ranked player I have beaten,” Harris said post-match. “I look up to Domi a lot so, for me, it is a special feeling. “I am really happy. “Just the fact that I am playing good tennis, match in, match out now is giving me a lot of confidence.”

Thiem was not the only seed to bow out, with fifth seed Belgian David Goffin and sixth seed Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta also losing. Goffin went down to Kei Nishikori, with the Japanese Grand Slam winner continuing to build since returning from injury, posting a tight 6-3 7-6 victory over the seed. Meanwhile, Rotterdam finalist Marton Fucsovics posted a come-from-behind win over Carreno Busta, dropping the first set in a tiebreaker before winning 6-7 6-3 6-2.

Lower down the seeded order, 12th seed Brit Daniel Evans lost at the hands of reborn Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, with the Russian wildcard winning in three sets, 6-4 4-6 6-4 to move through to the Round of 16. The only other unseeded player to make his way through to the third round was Slovenian Aljaz Bedene who took care of Italian lucky loser Lorenzo Giustino in straight sets.

It was a lot easier going for top talents, Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov who accounted for Finnish qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori and German Jan-Lennard Stuff in straight sets. The second and third seeds were joined by fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, who won after Australian Matthew Ebden retired at 4-1 down in the first set. Also through to the next round was Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov, who defeated the last remaining Australian in wildcard Alexei Popyrin, 6-4 3-6 7-6.

Dusan Lajovic, Hubert Hurkacz, Taylor Fritz, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego were the other seeds through to the Round of 16, setting up some tantalising matches for the next day’s play. Harris will face Krajinovic, Fritz waill face Rublev, Sinner will take on Bautista Agut and Shapovalov will face Hurkacz in the games to watch, while the other four matches see Bedene facing Nishikori, Sonego locking horns with Karatsev, Fucsovics taking on Lajovic, and Frenchman Jeremy Chardy up against Khachanov.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-3 6-4
[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [Q] Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-4 6-4
[3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-1 6-3
[4] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [SE] Matthew Ebden (AUS) 4-1 RET
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [5] David Goffin (BEL) 6-3 7-6
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-7 6-3 6-2
[8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-4 3-6 7-6
[11] Dusan Lajovic (CRO) defeated [WC] Malek Jaziri (TUN) 7-5 6-2
[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [12] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-4 4-6 6-4
[13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[14] FIlip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 7-5 6-4
[15] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[16] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 2-6 7-6 6-4
[17] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-2 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [LL] Lorenzo Giustino (ITA) 6-4 6-3

 

It was a mixed bag for Americans in Mexico, with four United States, one Canadian and one Mexican out on court in a day of straight sets action. Whilst there were some anticipated Round of 32 matches to open the Abierto Mexicano, no match really lived up to too much bar seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime‘s victory over Tennys Sandgren. The young gun won 6-3 7-6 to advance through to the second round, the closest of the six encounters on the day.

United States’ Sebastian Korda also had a tight first set before impressively shaking off Croatian Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2, joining compatriot John Isner in the second round. The big serving American took care of Italian Salvatore Caruso in straight sets, 6-4 6-3. The news was not as positive for Steve Johnson, who bowed out 6-2 6-3 to Serbian Laslo Djere, while German duo Alexander Zverev and Dominik Koepfer both advanced through to the Round of 16.

The second seed Zverev won 6-3 6-1 against Spanish teenage talent Carlos Alcaraz, while Koepfer booked his spot in the second round with a 6-4 6-2 victory over local wildcard, Gerardo Lopez Villasenor. A massive day of action will see the other six seeds in action, with number one seed Stefanos Tsitsipas facing Frenchman Benoit Paire, third seed Diego Schwartzman up against Italian young gun qualifier Lorenzo Musetti, Adrian Mannarino trying to take down fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov, and Tommy Paul up against fourth seed Milos Raonic.

ABIERTO MEXICANO ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-3 6-1
[7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-3 7-6
[WC] Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Marin Cilic CRO) 7-5 6-2
Laslo Djere (SR) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 6-2 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Gerardo Lopez Villasenor (MEX) 6-4 6-2

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

2021 ATP World Tennis Tournament & Argentina Open preview

WITH only two past winners in the 2021 World Tennis Tournament draw, the odds are in favour of a first-time winner at the 500 Rotterdam event which will welcome a number of the top stars on Tour. With Novak Djokovic nursing a torn muscle, and Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem resting, Russian Daniil Medvedev will enter the tournament as top seed and favourite at the event.

Gael Monfils is a back-to-back winner, but has opted not to take part this year as he still battles coming back from injury and his own form, while Stan Wawrinka (2015) and Andy Murray (2009) are the only past winners of the event in the draw. Despite not featuring any of the Big Three – Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer – the next crop of talents are all attending, with Australian Open finalist Medvedev the pick to go deep given his recent form.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev have all been handed top four seedings at the exclusive event, while Felix Auger-Aliassime is also in the top eight alongside more experienced talents in Roberto Bautista Agut, David Goffin and Wawrinka. Aside from Goffin who has struggled of late, the rest of the seeds have been in some strong form, with the top four particularly favoured to once again continue their ATP Tour success.

Outside the top eight, Alex de Minaur is a huge threat, while young guns Ugo Humbert and Jannik Sinner are back again, as are the likes of Karen Khachanov and Hubert Hurkacz. Further down the list, John Millman will hope to turn around his poor start to 2021, with Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori past Top 10 talents who are always dangers at any level, as is Grand Slam winner Murray. In terms of local hopes, Botic Van De Zandschulp and Robin Haase have been handed wildcards, but face an incredibly uphill battle against the world’s best players.

If you had to pick a winner, Medvedev is the choice, though the stacked field with Cilic being the lowest ranked automatic entry outside of wildcards, means it is an incredibly talented draw.

 

ARGENTINA OPEN:

From the star-studded 500 tournament to a lower-ranked clay court event in Argentina, some of the top clay courters in the world will look to take full advantage of a weakened field to snare a title. Top seed Diego Schwartzman is able to remain in his home country following the Cordoba Open, and he will be joined by second seed and clay court specialist, Cristian Garin. Benoit Paire and Miomir Kecmanovic round out the top four seeds, with Paire grabbing his second win in 12 months, and the up-and-coming Kecmanovic in a similar form struggle.

Guido Pella is a threat in his home nation, with Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Laslo Djere and Pablo Andujar rounding out the top eight players and Top 60 talents at the event. The 2019 winner, Marco Cecchinato is back to try and win another title, ranked 79th in the world currently. Joao Sousa  – ranked 93rd in the world – is the lowest ranked automatic entry, though the Argentinian wildcards yet to be fully announced are always a threat.

Schwartzman and Garin are the clear and away standouts in this draw, and would make for an entertaining final.

ATP 250 wraps: Popyrin and Bublik to battle for maiden title in Singapore; upsets galore in Cordoba

TWO very different scenarios in Montpellier and Singapore were reached, with the top two players making the Open Sud de France final, as two title-less ATP Tour opponents will engage in the Singapore decider.

Whilst the other two tournaments have thrown up more than their fair share of surprises, the end result for the Open Sud de France effectively remains as you would expect by the final. Top seed Roberto Bautista Agut and second seed David Goffin both reached the final after respective semi-finals victories in different conditions.

Bautista Agut knocked off German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in straight sets, 7-5 6-1 and heads into the final as favourite having not dropped a set all tournament and looking strong. The match lasted one hour and 15 minutes, with the Spaniard looking clinical thanks to his 84 per cent success rate off his first serve, and a 71 per cent efficiency. He broke Gojowczyk four times from 11 chances, whilst saving three of the German’s own break point opportunities throughout the game.

Goffin’s semi-final win over Belarusian Egor Gerasimov was indicative of his tournament, having a tougher challenge than his final opponent, with his second third-set win in the three matches. He won 6-4 2-6 6-4 over Gerasimov who has proven to be quite the handful for opponents over time, having knocked out Andy Murray in the Round of 32 here. In the semi-final, Goffin served one more ace (7-6), and whilst his serving was lower (62 per cent to 70 per cent efficiency) he still broke the same amount of times (three) and managed to break exactly even on the total amount of points (91 from 182) to get the job done.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE SEMI-FINALS:

[1] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [Q] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 7-5 6-1
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-4 2-6 6-4

 

In Singapore, a new ATP Tour title-winner will be crowned after Australian Alexei Popyrin and Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik won their respective semi-finals to advance to the 2021 Singapore Tennis Open final. Popyrin defeated third seed Croatian Marin Cilic in straight sets, though they were in two tight tiebreakers, while Bublik toppled Macedonian Radu Albot in a come-from-behind victory, 2-6 6-3 6-4.

Popyrin, ranked 114th in the world was in his first ever semi-final, but he stood the test of time against the far more experienced Cilic, winning 7-5 in the first set tiebreaker and then 7-2 in the second set tiebreaker, in just under two hours. The big-serving Australian outserved the powerful Croatian with 15 aces to nine, and won 77 and 63 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to Cilic’s 69 and 53 per cent. Despite this, both players only had one break each, but Popyrin was better when it counted.

By comparison, the 23-year-old world number 46 Bublik had to fight back from a disappointing first set to post a win over Albot in 90 minutes of game play. The Kazakh put down 12 aces to two, and won 75 per cent of his first serve points. Both players broke twice, but Bublik’s came in the second and third sets respectively after the Macedonian did it twice in the first set.

Bublik and Popyrin have never played before, with the 21-year-old Australian having a career win-loss record of 18-30 compared to Bublik’s 41-43.

SINGAPORE SEMI-FINALS:

Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [3] Marin Cilic (CRO) 7-6 7-6
[4] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [6] Radu Albot (MCE) 2-6 6-3 6-4

 

Someone in Cordoba decided to rip up the script in the quarter finals, with all four matches going the way of the lower ranked player. Remarkably, Argentina came close to having a monopoly in the semi-finals with three of the four compatriots advancing, but even stranger was the fact that the one that did not was top seed Diego Schwartzman.

The tournament favourite suffered defeat at the hands of Albert Ramos-Vinolas in three sets, 6-1 4-6 6-3. The Spaniard needed two and a half hours to dismiss Schwartzman in front of home fans, breaking his opponent five times to two, and winning 67 per cent of his second serve points compared to Schwartzman’s 38 per cent. He will now go on to face Argentinian qualifier Facundo Bagnis who smashed Slovakian Jozef Kovalik 6-1 6-2 in just 70 minutes to advance through to the semi-finals. Bagnis was dominant on serve, saving both break points and winning all bar 12 points on his serve, whilst breaking Kovalik four times in the process.

The other semi-final will feature two Argentinians, with Federico Coria taking on Juan Manuel Cerundolo. Coria defeated the inconsistent Benoit Paire, 6-3 6-2 and knocked out the second seed in 86 minutes on court. Paire’s serving was right off with four aces to five double faults, and winning a lowly 59 and 30 per cent of his first and second serves. By comparison, the world number 95 – now the second highest ranked player remaining – won 69 and 64 per cent of his first and second serve points, and broke six times to two throughout the one-sided match. Cerundolo on the other hand had to defeat Brazilian seventh seed Thiago Monteiro in three sets, 6-2 2-6 6-3 to pave his way into the final four.

CORDOBA QUARTER FINALS:

[5] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [1] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-1 4-6 6-3
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated [2] Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-2
[Q] Juan Manuel Cerundolo (ARG) defeated [7] Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-2 2-6 6-3
[Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated Jozef Kovalik (SVK) 6-1 6-2

Picture credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images